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"The Gribble Affair": A Study of Aboriginal - European Labour relations in North-west Australia during the 1880s

Hunt, Su-Jane (1978) "The Gribble Affair": A Study of Aboriginal - European Labour relations in North-west Australia during the 1880s. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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This paper investigates the so-called 'Gribble Affair', which occurred in the colony of Western Australia over the years 1885, 1886 and 1887. Gribble made a number of allegations about the condition of Aborigines in the Gascoyne region of North-West Australia, His a1legations sparked a furore in the colony which culminated "in one of the most bitter disputes seen in 19th Century Western Australia. This paper assesses the Gribble Affair, its role in Western Australian history, the nature of the colonial society in which it arose and the condition and treatment of Aborigines in the North-West during the 1880s. It also investigates the accuracy of Gribble 1s allegations, through the use of further and related source material, suitable for illustrating the position of Aborigines in the North. This source material also provides an illuminating insight into the nature and dynamics of colonial Western Australia. The paper's main finding is that Gribble's allegations exposed the existence of an Aboriginal ‘labour system' in the north, based on the kidnapping and forced indenture of Aborigines. The labour system was sanctioned de facto by inadequate legislation and was safeguarded by police activities, as Aboriginal labour was essential to the North-·West colonial economy.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Inquiry
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Supervisor(s): UNSPECIFIED
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